Millions of traveler’s cross borders everyday, many of them are dual citizens. Traveling with one or more passports is quite common and thousands of people do it every day and there is nothing to be afraid of, as long you keep the following important points in mind (see below).

When a person holds citizenship in two countries, they may have two valid passports, each issued by one of the countries of which they are a citizen. The reasons for having dual citizenship vary and can be due to birth, marriage, naturalization, or other factors.

Dual citizens are entitled to dual passports and use it to cross borders, reaching country A to country B.  It’s important to note that using two passports must be done in accordance with the laws and regulations of the countries involved.

The Key is presenting the right passport

The ability to cross borders using two passports depends on whether you come from a country where dual citizenship is allowed or not.

1. Dual Citizenship Allowed

If your country allows dual citizenship, things get much easier, you can fly directly from country A to country B transiting.  For example, flying from US to UK dual nationals, must carry two passports and must enter/exit the same country passport. As a citizen, using the right passport is important.

Below infographic will show you.

Dual Citizens


Let’ say you are traveling from country A to B.

  • Register with the airline country (B) passport. The Airline will ask for Passport number and Passenger details in their website.
  • Show passport (B) at Airline checkin counter.
  • Border police of Country A – Show your country A passport when exiting.
  • Border control of Country B – Show your country B passport when entering.
  • Reach your destination.

US, UK, Canada, Europe

  • United States – The State department requires U.S. nationals, including U.S. dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.  Use of the foreign passport to travel to or from a country other than the United States is not inconsistent with U.S. law.
  • United Kingdom – The UK Government requires all dual nationals, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.
  • Canada – Likewise If you are a Canadian with dual citizenship, need to carry a valid Canadian passport to return to Canada by air.
  • EU Citizens – Dual EU citizens must present a valid travel document, proving that you are an EU citizen.

2. Dual Citizenship Restricted

Things get complicated if your country do not allow dual citizenship and you are prohibited carrying two passports. You should not disclose two passports as it makes it illegal. You could be stopped for further scrutiny by border officials.

To get around this problem, many people use another strategy. The use of second passport works best, if you travel through a neutral third country, eg Dubai, Istanbul, Hong Kong etc. where you can swap passports. The third country used for transit, should be a visa free country or if you already have a visa, e-visa, residence permit etc.  More and more countries are moving towards evisas (eg. New Zealand, Turkey etc). It makes even easier if you use automatic e-gates where you dont get stamps in passport.

Non Dual Nationals

India, China, Singapore and other Middle East Countries (eg. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain etc) have zero tolerance towards dual nationals. Let us take the example of China.


Chinese dual nationals face identity crisis. China has zero tolerance to dual nationals and does not recognise foreign nationality of chinese citizens. China has exit checks. Many chinese nationals hide their foreign passport through various tricks. One trick many chinese use is show a valid visa or permanent residence when exiting using with their chinese passport or they transit to third country (a visa free country) and swap to foreign passport to reach their destination. None of the methods are bulletproof. Chinese embassy will prevent consular officials from providing assistance to dual citizens.

Another issue Chinese face, when renewing their expiring chinese passport abroad. The Chinese embassy will ask for proof of settlement with full disclosure. If not, the Chinese embassy and consulates will cancel or declare the relevant documents to be invalidated and the relevant personnel will be refused or will be denied entry.

In China, if you are found to have a foreign passport, you will be forced to chose one citizenship over another.  China has held millions of dual nationals in a crackdown and asked to give up their “hukou” (household registration). They will lose access to healthcare, education, social welfare and housing.

Rules to Follow

These are the rules you must follow and using the right passport is important.

  • Citizens must use the same passport for entry and exit. For example, US citizens who are dual nationals must use US passport to enter and exit US, likewise UK citizens must use UK passport to enter and exit UK borders.
  • Countries which do not permit dual citizenship, do not allow traveling or holding multiple passports. Instead you must present a visa or residence permit to exit country. Be aware some countries have exit checks (India, China), in this case it is advantageous if you present a visa or e-visa, residence permit or permanent residence card.


You must register the right passport through airlines too, register and show your destination country passport at check-in. Airlines manually check passport and visa data before boarding. Airlines do share their passenger manifests with the immigration authorities of the destination country, which is another good reason that the passport you show on arrival should match up with the one you showed at the gate.


Visa sticker: If you have a visa sticker in your passport, you must use that passport to enter visa issued country., even if you have another passport that has visa waiver. Visas have higher precedence over visa waiver entry.

You also should be aware of:

  • Modern passports hold biometric data providing strong security, it is possible immigration officers know about passports with different nationalities.
  • Passport validity must be valid for 6 months or more (a requirement for many countries). Do not carry expired passports. Any visa or residence card is only valid for travel when presented with valid passport.
  • If you lose your passport during your travel, first file a police report and seek help from your embassy. If embassy or consulate not available, you can seek emergency assistance from a commonwealth country.
  • A number of countries have eliminated stamp on passports facilitating faster entry through e-gates.
  • The European countries issue a separate residence card, do not stamp residence permits on passports (only visas).
  • E-Visas also make life simple making it easier to apply and use.

Important disclaimer: The above information and illustration is not legal or advice, only for knowledge purpose. Double check your Travel visa and passport requirements for crossing borders through land, air, sea are different. Please consult with the foreign office or embassy before the trip to make sure you satisfy all requirement and not violate any law.